The History of OUR school

Woodeaton Manor House was built in 1775 in a commanding position west of the village, with extensive views south across Oxford city and the Thames Valley beyond. In the early 1790s the house was extended and refurbished to the designs of John Soane. This was shortly after his appointment as architect to the Bank of England, and it demonstrates some of the developing style of one of Britain’s greatest architectural talents. The house contains elegant Soane cornices, chimney pieces and decorations, most of which are still in fine condition.

The importance of Woodeaton Manor is reflected in its Grade II* listing (‘particularly important buildings of more than special interest’; in top 6% of all listed buildings). The remainder of the site – the stable block, water tower, workshops, cottages, boundary walls, walled garden and folly – is all Grade II listed.

The south front has a wooden cornice and balustraded wooden parapet, with three dormer windows in the attic story. It is given character by a half-octagonal central bay with three windows, which is carried up the whole height of the house with three windows on either side. The first-floor windows open on to elegant iron balconies.

The north front has five widely spaced bays; the central one comprises a group of three windows of which the centre one is three panes wide, the side ones two panes wide; the second and fourth bays on the ground floor have arched windows. There is a central double door under an arched radiating fanlight and flanked by windows. It is approached by stone steps and an Ionic porch, comprising four pilasters and four slender columns which support an entablature with a frieze of ox heads, swags, and a dental cornice. The porch is dated and signed 'Coade, London, 1791', and was designed by Sir John Soane, who also added the kitchen wing of two stories on the east side.

Sir John Soane was also responsible for the fine hall, which has a decorated marble chimney-piece of white-and green-veined marble, and for much of the decoration of the principal rooms. There are six reception rooms and the entrance hall has a fine staircase with oak treads and a mahogany hand-rail with a scroll balustrade of wrought iron. The chief rooms have double doors of mahogany inlaid with ebony and other woods, with caps ornamented with rams' heads, swags, and acanthus leaves; they have fine marble chimney-pieces with friezes ornamented with baskets of flowers, swags, birds, musical instruments, and so forth. The room with the bay windows opposite the entrance door (originally the library and currently the school’s office) has its long French windows separated by glass mirrors framed in gold and standing on rounded shelves which are each supported by finely carved brackets.

Since 1950 the House and the grounds have served as Woodeaton Manor School, providing education for children with moderate learning difficulties and, from 2004, for pupils with Emotional and Social difficulties.

In 2004, proposals from Oxfordshire County Council to change the category of use to provide education for pupils with Emotional and Social difficulties were the context for commissioning a Conservation Plan. Its purpose was to create an understanding of the site and its historical development, propose areas where it has particular significance, assess the appropriateness of educational uses in light of its importance and vulnerabilities, and propose policies for proper protection under any revised educational role. On 6th July 2004, the County Council agreed to ‘adopt’ and act upon the recommendations in the Conversation Plan.

The principal policy objectives identified in the Plan are:

  • To establish the conservation of Woodeaton Manor and protection of its significance alongside educational objectives at the heart of site management and future planning.
  • To adopt appropriate uses for securing a safe and sustainable future for the historic site.
  • To protect the historic character of the house and setting, the integrity of the interior spaces and the surviving evidence of past developments.
  • To ensure that care and maintenance provisions reflect the needs of the historic building and observe high standards of conservation practice.
  • To open up understanding and enjoyment of Woodeaton Manor to full appreciation by its users, with appropriate public access from time to time.


The implementation of the detailed policies contained in the Plan are the responsibility of the County Council, the LA, the Governing Body and Headteacher of Woodeaton Manor School …. to this end, we are all responsible for OUR beautiful school.